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What’s new in June 2017?
Well now that you ask, actually quite a lot including some titanic clashes involving top players. I’ve seen quite a lot of things in the Dragon but I never thought the day would come when someone admitted playing the Dragon ‘for a draw!’. Yes, move over the Philidor and Petroff Defences, and bin that Berlin wall, the Dragon is in town! Of course, the irony is that that someone was Anish Giri and despite that being his aim, he actually won, and against no slouch.
Well, that is where we end. We start with the World Champion!...

Download PGN of June ’17 Dragon Sicilian games

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Fianchetto System 6 g3 a6 7 h3 [B70]

I suppose I’ve just invented a new classification there but given its blatant connection to the Dragon (despite strictly speaking starting off as a Najdorf), how could I ignore the heavyweight clash Carlsen, M - Nakamura, H?

Okay so we had 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 g6 7.g3 Nc6 when I paused in my commentary to make a comparison with more standard fianchetto variations in particular with regards the inclusions h3 and ...a6. All in all you'd have to say the trade favours White, specifically because h2-h3 depriving a black knight or bishop access to the g4-square is always useful. Whilst ...a6 is handy for Black too, in the main lines Black gets in the queenside expansion ...b5 through ...Rb8 (also usefully removing the rook from the g2-a8 diagonal) with ...a7-a5 not untypically following later.

That assessment is more applicable to the Nde2 lines but instead Magnus chose to put control of the g4-square to use with 8.Be3 after which Bg7 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 occurred:

Looking at this position surely few could argue this doesn’t belong on a Dragon site although rather continue on autopilot with 10...Bd7, Hikaru now got creative with 10...Nd7 seeking to re-route this knight and deter Nd5. Magnus didn’t fancy a black knight winding up on c4 and so 11.b3 followed when 11...Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 b6 14.Nd5 Bb7 15.c4 e5 16.Qe3 b5 lead to a fascinating middlegame and some fun tactics.

Classical Dragon 6 Be3 Bg7 7 Be2 Nc6 8 Qd2 0-0 9 0-0-0 [B72]

The game Hernandez, C - Quintiliano Pinto, R saw 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0:

We haven't had one of these offbeat variations on the site for a while. Initially a dangerous little sideline, it seemed Black had figured out how to take the sting out of this tricky line. Unfortunately it would appear that this Brazilian IM possibly didn't get that memo and wound up the fall-guy in a wonderfully stunning short.

9...Ng4 10.Bxg4 Bxg4 11.f3 Bd7 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bh6 has all been seen before on the site with 13...Bxh6 14.Qxh6 arguably being a little provocative. Still things don’t really go wrong for him until 14...Qa5 15.h4 Rab8?! When 16.h5 g5 17.Nd5! is just the start of some wonderfully wicked tactics. Don’t miss this!

Dragadorf 8 Bc4 Nbd7 9 Qd2 Qc7 10 Bb3 Nc5 11 0-0-0 b5 [B75]

Regards 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Bc4 Nbd7 9.Qd2 Qc7 10.Bb3 Nc5 11.0-0-0 b5 personally I’m not a great fan of this Black set-up that sees the black queen obstruct potential black rook c-file action and no knights controlling e5 or eyeing up the c4-square. In Tukhaev, A - Karthik,V after 12.Kb1 Nxb3 we correctly saw 13.cxb3! This is possible because the white king has vacated the c-file avoiding the knight losing ...b4. Recapturing away from the centre might seem odd to many who will now see an ineffective pawn majority on the queenside (i.e. as compared to Black's 5 v 4 elsewhere) and an open file on the side of the board where his king is. In truth though that a and b pawn mass keeps the black pieces at bay whilst White has got just as much right to use the c-file as Black. His focus now though will be the black king and in that department he excels! My point is that through 13...0-0 14.Bh6 the main idea behind the ‘Dragadorf’ has been ignored.

Black has committed his king to the kingside where 14...Bb7 15.h4 b4 16.Nce2 Bxh6 17.Qxh6 Kh8 18.h5 Rg8 19.Nf4 clearly demonstrated why it was an easy target.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 Nxe6 fxe6 11 0-0-0 Ne5 12 Be2 Qc8 13 Bh6 [B76]

Following 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 the first of two games in this update in this variation Tukhaev , A - Nguyen Duc Hoa features 13.Bh6:

It is of course fairly typical in the Yugoslav Attack for White to seek a bishop trade early doors but here such a swap does leave White with a few dark-squared holes in his camp. Eliminating the Dragon bishop may (as in the game) result in the white queen winding up closer to the black king. Certainly handy in the quest to deliver checkmate, that point is defeated slightly in this encounter when her majesty is soon withdrawn.

Yes, after 13...Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Qc5 15.h4 b5!? 16.Qd2 h5!? White got a bit ambitious through 17.Nxb5?! hxg4 18.h5 gxf3 19.Bf1 in an entertaining if error-strewn game.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 Nxe6 fxe6 11 0-0-0 Ne5 12 Be2 Qc8 13 h4 [B76]

So, 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 was as above after which in Ten Hertog, H - Tiggelman, R White delayed the concept of trading bishops with 13.h4 instead:

More recently in this position we have focused our attention on 13...Nfd7 (perhaps abandoning the king but livening up the rook along the f-file and of course the Dragon bishop along its traditional diagonal.) Here though 13...Nc4 14.Bxc4 Qxc4 followed when a relative rarity appeared in the form of 15.Bd4!? Actually this looks like quite a good move and certainly after 15...b5 16.Kb1 b4 17.Ne2 a5 18.h5 Kf7?! Black soon found himself in hot water.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 Bb3 Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 [B77]

I have to say that although MVL clearly lost his way, twinned with home prep the game Vachier Lagrave, M - Giri, A saw Giri back to his accurate best.

After this encounter, message boards were going mad about the Dragon obviously standing well etc. etc. if Giri played it! However let us not forget that it started off as an Accelerated Dragon and so if White was determined to get some sort of Yugoslav Attack (i.e. as opposed to entering a Maroczy Bind) then there were limited variations that he could get. He couldn't for example obtain a 9 0-0-0 or 9 g4 line and specifically he was forced to effectively adopt the 10 Bb3 variation appearing then via the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2:

Having essentially railroaded his opponent into this variation, Giri promptly wheeled out the well respected variation Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 12.a4 b4 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 Qb6 after which 16.h4 h5 17.0-0-0 Qa5 18.g4 Bxa4 19.Kb1 Bxb3 20.cxb3 had all been seen before. Do check out the rest though to see Giri playing so accurately but MVL slowly erring.

For now that’s all from me.

See you all soon, Chris

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